Many of us in the British equestrian community have been left appalled by footage caught on a helmet cam of a group of cyclists whizzing past a horse and rider, showing so little regard for their safety that one cyclist even undercuts them, hitting the horse, and catching the riders stirrup on their handlebar. This caused the normally bombproof horse to rear and bolt forward removing a back shoe in the process. But it could have been a lot worse.
The worrying thing is, that not only did this group of cyclists competing in the Windsor Triathlon, organised by Human Race Events, display zero regard for the safety of horse and rider in the first place - both kitted out in hi-viz gear by the way - but even after the incident they didn’t apologise or stop and check that horse and rider were ok!
About the same time in Kent, another rider and her horse set off on a Saturday hack and were passed by a lot of cyclists taking part in a race organised by Evans Cycles. Again, the rider claims, some cyclists failed to slow down, passed too close and seemed not to care that her normally sensible horse was becoming agitated. The final straw came in the shape of a low-level cycle decked out with flags that resulted in the horse bolting through a hedge, falling and throwing their rider. Even though a couple of female cyclists did shout through the hedge and offer assistance, when she eventually managed to get out of the field and unable to remount, led her horse home, cyclists refused her requests to slow down, even when her horse was spinning around.
With the increasing number of cyclists on the road we’re sure many of you have had similar experiences and so we think it’s imperative that the equestrian and cycling community come together NOW to provide a simple set of guideline for sharing the roads safely before a horse and rider or cyclist are more seriously injured.
The British Horse Society already has a ‘Code of conduct for horse riders and cyclists’ that has a lot of good information in it. Unfortunately, the message that horses need special consideration doesn’t seem to be getting through to the cycling community.
We also wonder if certain points need to be clarified. For instance, when it advises cyclists to slow down, there is no indication of what speed is appropriate.
Also, should we as riders use a system of arm signals that are respected by cyclists, such as moving an outstretched arm up and down to indicate, ‘please slow down’ or putting a hand up to say ‘please stop!’ ?
We were pleased to here that in the videoed Windsor incident the organisers said that that, ‘Riders will be identified and disqualified from all Human Race Events.’ However, this still leaves a question - if cyclists are taking part in a race, how can they be encouraged to slow or stop for horses when they will be penalised for losing time?
In both incidents we’ve mentioned the cyclists were competing in organised races but both horse riders seem to have been unaware that they were taking place. In the BHS Code of conduct they say that ‘British Cycling has agreed to ask their race organisers to notify BHS Approved Riding Schools and Livery Yards when they are organising an event in their vicinity.’ But obviously, this doesn’t seem to be enough, if it’s actually happening at all. Should race organisers make more of an effort to ensure that riders are made aware of races in their area and how can this be best achieved?
These are just a few issues that we’ve highlighted but now it’s over to you. What have been your experiences of meeting cyclists whilst riding on the roads? What constructive suggestions do you have? Does the BHS code give enough guidance?